In 1905 brothers Collett and Robert S. Munger carefully planned an “upscale development” located among cotton fields along the eastern edge of Dallas. Known as Munger Place, this “upscale development” featured amenities such as paved streets, sewers, gas mains, a nearby streetcar line, and electric street lights. In an effort to promote Munger Place as “a strictly high class residential district,” Collett and Robert S. Munger, the man also responsible for perfecting Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin, established Munger Place as the first deed restricted neighborhood in Texas, which mandated that houses be a full two stories, not face a side street, and cost at least $2,000.
With its various amenities and high-class reputation, Munger Place became known as the “finest residence park in the entire Southland.” Munger Place, which originally included a part of Swiss Avenue, attracted several prominent Dallas professionals as well as one particularly famous Texan, C.C. Slaughter, who was at the time the largest taxpayer in Texas, the owner of more than a million acres of ranchland, and a key philanthropist who helped establish Baylor Hospital.
During the Great Depression, many Munger Place homeowners converted their two-story houses into apartments and began taking in borders. After World War II, local artists began moving into Munger Place, attracted by the ten to twelve foot ceilings and large windows that filled the spacious rooms with natural light. The beam ceilings, brass fixtures, and pocket doors that decorated many of the two-story Prairie four squares, Craftsman bungalows, and Neoclassical houses later attracted a new wave of young professionals during the late 1970s.
In 1980, residents of Munger Place persuaded the city of Dallas to establish Munger Place as a Historic District. Munger Place also received national attention from the Federal National Mortgage Association when it selected Munger Place as a national demonstration area for its innovative inner-city lending program, while the Old East Dallas Home Tour (sponsored by the Munger Place Homeowners Association) attracted thousands of visitors as well as more local attention.
Today, Munger Place Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places and celebrated its centennial in April 2005. Munger Place Historic District is located south of the Swiss Avenue Historic District, bound roughly by Junius Street on the north, Reiger Avenue on the south, Henderson Avenue on the east, and Fitzhugh Avenue on the west. With the largest collection of Prairie four squares in the United States and its uniform spacing, Munger Place Historic District offers a sense of cohesiveness in a historic Dallas neighborhood.
Author: Michelle Stanard
Editor: Michael Hazel
Photos: Allen Fagen